Diwali maybe a few days away but management council members and deans of academic faculties at the University of Pune (UoP) already have their gifts in place brand new iPads. These have been purchased from the university funds,primarily meant for students.
More than 30 such iPads were purchased by university administration at the cost of over Rs 10 lakh. A section of academic community members were planning to register a protest over this at the recent senate meeting,but the issue failed to find place in the day-long proceedings.
Eknath Khandawe a UoP senate member as a representative of teachers,who had moved a proposal in the senate to condemn the purchase of iPads criticised the administration for unmindful expenditure from the funds meant for students.
While on one hand,the university becomes miserly when it comes to raising monetary benefits under the earn-and-learn scheme for students,on the other it does not hesitate in purchasing luxuries for a few. Such unmindful waste of students money is objectionable. Universitys decision-making bodies cannot function in such selfish manner, he said.
The management council,which is the principal executive authority for carrying out duties not specifically assigned to any other authority,had a few weeks ago passed the proposal for purchase of iPads. UoP vice-chancellor Wasudeo Gade,who is an ex-officio chairman of the management council,apparently did not object to the proposal.
While Gade could not be reached for comment,UoP registrar Narendra Kadu defended the move. Our aim is to bring the concept of paperless working. The iPads are a step towards this effect. Those who have received iPads will have to pay for any damages to the device, he said,adding that the earn-and-learn scheme benefits and purchase of iPads could not be linked.
A majority of iPad beneficiaries are management council members,who meet four times a year.
The UoP administration had also drawn flak over purchase of office bags worth around Rs 6,000 each for administrative officers above the rank of assistant registrars and deputy registrars.
Use of iPads falls under RTI Act
Educational counsellor and RTI activist Vivek Velankar said use of iPads allotted to management council members and deans comes under the RTI Act as these were purchased from public money. As per the RTI Act,any electronic data is also information. It remains to be seen for how much official purposes these devices are used, he said. Velankar said high-salaried category of university officer-bearers,like members of management council and deans,should be denied any perks like iPads purchased using university funds,saying they can easily purchase these themselves.